A Shelby County resident who lived the farmer’s dream is now bequeathing most of it to local churches. Edwin “Bud” Skalla of rural Portsmouth, passed away on November 26th, 2013 at the age of 92 years old. During his lifetime, Skalla accumulated over $2 million in cash assets and 1,100 acres of land in Harrison and Shelby Counties. In a press conference Thursday, Ray Chipman, conservator for the Skalla estate, said most of the land and cash assets will be divided between thirteen catholic churches in southwest Iowa. In addressing the media, Chipman said Skalla was a quiet and frugal man.
“During his lifetime he wouldn’t have bought you a cup of coffee that cost five cents. But now in his passing, I think we can say 98 percent of his estate will be given to catholic churches in southwest Iowa. Portsmouth in particular will inherit a farm which was appraised at almost $3 million. That is an out right gift to Portsmouth.”
Chipman says the 292 acre farm going to St. Mary Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Portsmouth is one of six parcels of land Skalla owned southeast of Portsmouth. The other 858 acres will be auctioned. “In addition to the farm given to Portsmouth, the residual of his estate, and we don’t know what that is going to be because we have 858 acres and we don’t know what that will bring per acre, but depending on what that brings added to $2.5 million in cash assets that he has, that total will be distributed to 13 catholic churches in southwest Iowa.”
Those churches benefiting in Shelby County are St. Michael’s in Harlan, St. Peter’s in Defiance, St. Joseph’s in Earling, and St. Boniface in Westphalia, St. Mary’s in Portsmouth and St. Mary’s in Panama. In Harrison County, St. Patrick’s Church in Missouri Valley, St. Anne’s Church in Logan, St. Patrick’s in Dunlap and Sacred Heart in Woodbine. In addition, St. Patrick’s in Neola, St. Rose of Lima in Denison and St. Patrick’s in Council Bluffs are also beneficiaries. Skalla didn’t come from a wealthy family and built most of his assets in investments. Skalla was never married and didn’t have any children. His living relatives are two sisters Sylvia Kepford of California, Roseann Brummer of Logan and sister in law Vi Skalla. Father John Dorton of the St. Mary’s of Portsmouth and other churches spoke highly of Skalla and called him a loyal, hard worker who loved the community and church. Dorton then read a letter written by Reverend Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines,
“The Catholic communities of Shelby and Harrison Counties as well as the Diocese of Des Moines are enormously grateful to Edwin “Bud” Skalla for his extraordinarily generous remembrance of the parishes in his will. Bud was engaged in the most noble of professions, farming. Through his dedicated work, he provided nourishment for the human body which fortified countless thousands. Now, in death, through his legacy he will enrich the human spirit through faith and spiritual development.”
When asked how he felt when he heard what the Portsmouth parish was going to receive, Dorton replied with one word: “Wow!” Skalla spent all but thirteen years of his life on his farm southeast of Portsmouth before moving to Elm Crest Retirement Community in Harlan. The auction for the land will be held in Portsmouth on February 15th at St. Mary’s Parish Hall in Portsmouth.